SCIENCE IN THE MOVIES
Cowboys & Aliens / Vaqueros y extraterrestres
Jon Favreau EEUU 2011
This film mixes science fiction and traditional western; mineral resources from Earth are extracted by interplanetary invaders that have an amazing ability to revive among the flames.
Although it seems ridiculous that a being can be revived when burned, in the plant world, there are many species whose seeds germinate with fire. I thought they germinate by cracking with the heat, but recent studies have shown that this is an exception: in most cases the embryo is stimulated by chemicals compounds in smoke.
It also has an objective basis when the movie shows that intelligent beings visit other planets to extract minerals. We brought extraterrestrial minerals from the moon in the Apolo 11 mission in 1969, and currently we plan to use iron, nickel, water and oxygen from asteroids in future space exploration.
Aliens in this film capture human beings to study them and sometimes they return them back to their habitat, and that’s exactly what I do in real life (I am a biologist). I have been doing this for decades with various species of butterflies and worms. And for 2020 we expect to bring the first extraterrestrial rocks to Earth hoping they contain living creatures or at least their fossils.
Finally, the idea of a small weapon carried by one person but with the power to bring down a huge flying ship, like in the movie, is reasonable. In the 1970s the Stinger missiles supplied to the Afghans by the U.S. army shot down so many Soviet helicopters that the USSR army was forced to leave Afghanistan. The U.S. have not suffered the same fateonly because the Afgans ran out of Stingers years ago, but recently they seem to have used the Russian equivalent, a Strela, to shoot down a NATO helicopter. In conclusion, Cowboys & Aliens is entertaining and surprisingly credible in these scientific areas: I recommend it without any doubt.